The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chapter Five; HOW DOES THIS GOD THING WORK? part fourteen

It is typical for many Christians to use common key verses from the Bible to support their view of the world. Many verses are heard regularly in their church. Some key verses are repeated to enhance the adherence of those that follow the denomination. Depending on the focus of the church, different verses are emphasized. My experience has shown that many adherents do not read their Bible or study their religion, more than the hour per week they are in the church building. They do not realize, step by step, their defense is shored up by their lack of knowledge in the faith they adhere to and their failure to investigate their own religion and dogma. In a way, this is useful. If an adherent is presented factual information about the Bible or other religious books, (s)he may be more likely to come out of that faith and into the rational world. [I wouldn't hold my breath on that , though.] When I was a child and looked at older people, I thought they must be smart. The older people around me seemed smart. The truth is most older people just get older and rarely gain in intelligence. Quite the opposite happens to be honest. Seniors begin to view knowledge with contempt and suspicion. This is how most older people in the church behave. They view the youth with contempt, unless they adhere to preconceived views. This is one of the main motivations for getting the Hell scared out of children and having them convert at a young age. If you can get the kids to believe the impossible then they will have a better chance to believe the total package of dogma that goes along with it.
Most followers would not even know what book in the Bible verses were from or the context they are written in. I contend that facing a believer on their home turf is not for every skeptic. Not that I am advocating that , but, we do live in a nation and world full of adherents. In my experience, all non-believers I have met or heard study the Bible and know the Bible better than most devout adherents. Not only is it a difficult task to take on, it is much harder than one would think. It would seem, the adherents would be hell bent to tell non-believers all about the advantages of their belief. Many of the beliefs that I have accepted, would not let a person stand down from one that was asking about the lessons of the others faith. It was a requirement of my religion.
It is easy enough to use god for any answer that you don't have an solution for. But, as a god is made, the answer to questions become increasingly more complex. You can rely upon scared text, but the support the text has in itself need to have evidence to prove it’s sacred text or it is only self affirming. If it is self affirming, then it relies upon a closed system of faith.
I have been face to face with pastors that told me I am free to visit their church , but not to disrupt their class, because I wouldn't accept their text. They either didn't know their own religion well enough or didn't trust that their adherents, [income source], could not defend what they believe.

The sign of the cross of The First Baptist Church of Moore was destroyed from a category five tornado that hit Moore, OK, on May 3, 2000. Many homes, businesses, and lives were destroyed from the massive winds that swept through the southern and eastern part of The Oklahoma City metro area. Prayers were offered by survivors in the resulting news coverage that resulted. Many people thanked God for saving their life even though the homes were destroyed. Not a single believer in God, on the news coverage, said that God should have stopped the tornado or put it in an area that wouldn't have caused so much destruction. This metal sign became a symbol of that particular disaster.

In the ancient times and even up into the Enlightenment, people often used God as the answer for what they didn't understand about the natural world. The “hand of God” was often assigned to such phenomena as storms, earthquakes, plagues, sickness, volcanic eruptions and other natural occurrences. As man discovered more about the world we live in and the Universe around us, he learned that a giant turtle doesn't hold the Earth. He learned that the Sun doesn't rotate around the Earth. He learned that a great god out at sea does not cause the tides to surge forth on the shores.
We have learned that the stars are not placed upon crystal spheres in the sky. On and on, at the time “God” was given as an explanation, rather than cause and effect. The universe grew, God shrank, and God became more ambiguous.
As man found answers to some of these questions, the power of God as the answer, lost merit, even stories based in “sacred” writings. As man discovers more about the natural world, believers are forced to make God even more abstract and unknowable than their predecessors. Some adherents to the young Earth concept, say, the naturally occurring phenomenon, like fossils, erosion, corrosion spectrometry, glacial movements, plate tectonics and other natural time indicators, are placed in a state that indicates a “false” long history. Furthermore, the methods used to determine the ages are either misinterpreted or bias toward old ages.
Some intelligent design answers , to fossil placement, are that God put them in place. Another is that the processes used to determine the ages is inconclusive or wrong. I have heard both. It is interesting that they will use one or the other, depending on what the particular ID supporter is talking about. It is amazing that experimentation and the scientific method must hold up to scrutiny and testing, by other scientist in the field, to be accepted. However, with ID there is no such method to verify concepts. Almost no original research is done in the ID community. It is speculated that they read the work of researchers, searching for holes or ways to support their point of view of a short age Earth.
On March 26, 2009 , I went to a Evolution vs. Creationism debate in Yukon, Oklahoma with Dr. Charles Jackson, Creation Truth and Abbie Smith, Researcher at Oklahoma University, HIV research.
Miss Smith asked Dr. Jackson if he had first hand or original research. After several stammering and stops, he admitted that he didn't. Miss Smith confirmed, she does first hand research , with her results checked by other scientists, for validity. This shows direct contrast of actual science versus the ID supporters.
I admit , that people who study ID know the scientific terminology and jargon. This certainly helps to sound more reasonable to a layman adherent. I have reviewed Michael Behe's books and find them quite impressive. He is very detailed in his presentation of inconceivable ideas. However, when addressing the scientific community, the weakness in their arguments is evident. To be honest, it is not much different than a pastor using the Bible to develop a sermon. All a pastor needs to do to improve his sermon, is to add a few key verses, i.e. “ No weapon formed against us will proper” or “If God is for us who can be against us”. He need not bother to follow any theology or internal logic. He can yell or speak loudly, and for good measure, provide an alter call.
Even with a god that is all powerful , all knowing and all loving, there must be mechanisms in place for the actions of that god to manifest themselves in reality. Doing something in an immaterial world has no effect in the natural world without a means to use natural reason to bring it into being. After all, the immaterial world doesn't exist. I would say that our imagination is more real than the things of the supernatural world. At least the things I imagine can to some degree become real. There are ways to to do that. However, to do this feat from the immaterial world, I need an amazing device; I call it The Supernatural to Natural Matter Transfer Device. [All the cool gods are getting them. Check your local supernatural electronics store.] What most adherents want to say is, my imaginary friend can do anything he or she wants, and it will become real in our world. If this isn't an example of a person suffering from a delusion, I don't know what is. It is like a small child. “ I want it. I want it. I want it.” It is a temper tantrum of supernatural proportions.
Maybe a device similar to a Supernatural to Natural Matter Transference Device [patent pending] is what these gods use to make their miracles. Instead of walking on water, as we would see in the real world, this god is walking on a bridge, that we cannot see. It was built with the SNMTD [now available at Radio Shack] and then disassembled the same way. Making up stories about reality is fun. You don't have to bother with reality at all, just like with religion. As it is supernatural, who needs to see it. There is no need to prove form or function or adhere to the Laws of Nature. Cause and effect is so silly a notion that one need not even address it. If something doesn't make sense, make up something else to be more confusing and inexplicable.
Still, for a person of faith, there must come a point when the view of the world comes in contrast with the alleged nature of a god. I would say that when addressing the physical existence of a divine, most believers have to admit they’ve not seen such a thing. At best, they will say they have felt “His” presence or provide some other ethereal explanation that seems totally understandable. But, if someone were to say the same of other gods, they would assume that person had been standing too close to the paint mixer. Not only would they admit it, but they would go so far as to say they don't need proof; they have faith. “And faith is all I need to know God is real.” Many very devout adherents have said this.

I have to admit, a statement like that is good enough for an almost non-fiction God.

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